Andy Tielman’s 10-String Guitar

Victor Uwaifo‘s double-neck “magic guitar” with 18 strings immediately brings to mind Andy Tielman and his 10-string guitar.  I suspect that many if not most Americans are unfamiliar (as I was) with The Tielman Brothers, a band of siblings from the Netherlands by way of Indonesia.  But check out this live performance of the band in flight, and you too might be floored by the realization that some of the most compelling rockabilly sounds came from a group of Indo-Dutch youngsters (many thanks to Tom Hutton for the tip!):

Check out the drummer’s guitar work on “Rollin’ Rock” by The Tielman Brothers

Andy Tielman and his brothers Reggy, Ponthon, and Loulou emigrated to the Netherlands in 1957 and got their first big gig at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair in the “Hawaiian Village” of the Dutch pavilion, where they stole the show (see live performance clip above) with their exuberant stage antics, according to Indo-Rock-Gallery.

Indo-Rock-Gallery‘s story of the Indonesian expatriate music scene in the Netherlands also details how Andy Tielman and his brothers pushed the “new rock music” forward in a number of ways.  How fascinating, for example, to discover that —

  • Andy Tielman’s famous 10-string Fender Jazzmaster was a result of having switched from his original Gibson Les Paul (due to its weight) and finding the Fender sound too thin.  Tielman, therefore, doubled each string (except the highest and lowest ones) and tuned every string pair in octaves to enlarge the sound.  At the time, Tielman tried to conceal his instrument’s headstock with a towel, but other bands would copy his invention.  Even still, I can find no photos of Andy’s 10-string invention on the web.

Cees Bakker’s attempt to replicate Andy Tielman’s 10-String Fender Jazzmaster

Fender headstock

  • Cees Bakker reports that “another Tielman first” was their innovative use of dual Fender VI six-string basses, one with lighter gauge strings (Reggy) and the other (Robby) with heavier ones — furthermore, “thanks to their amp settings Reggy sounded like an octave below guitar and Robby like a real bass guitar, which is unique for a Fender VI.”
  • Bakker also points out how the output from bassist, Robby Latuperisa, was “plugged through Andy’s guitar signal” on the way to “all other Fender Bassman and Showman” amplifiers, in addition to the PA sound system.

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Rock-It-Chain has band member lineups over the years, as well as a detailed discography.

Hear the twin 6-string basses and see Andy’s 10-string (briefly) in this live clip

“Guitar Boy”: Africa’s Guitar King

If it weren’t for Don’t Stay Up Too Late’s thoughtful (and poetic) 100 Great Singles of the 1960s (That Haven’t Been Played to Death on Oldies Radio), I might never have learned of “Africa’s Guitar King” – Sir Victor Uwaifo – and the heavenly sounds he conjured on his 1966 single, “Guitar Boy:

According to Uwaifo’s own website, “Guitar Boy” is a song that was directly inspired by the bandleader’s encounter one night at a Lagos beach bar with a mermaid — hence, the guitar’s “aqueous” sound.  As Jusi I Love helpfully explains, the mermaid (who the singer calls mami wata) told him, “Guitar boy, if you see mami wata, never never you run away”.  This larger-than-life tale has also been immortalized with a “sculptural representation of the mermaid and his guitar, constructed in a pool at Uwaifo’s Revelation Tourist Palazzo in Benin City.”  Don’t Stay Up Late would commemorate the singer and song thusly:

Victor Uwaifo
Had a great life-o.
But he knew he was only the king
’Cos a mermaid had once heard him sing.

Could “Guitar Boy” have been the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s epic 1968 composition, “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)“?

Uwaifo’s biography also informs us that, as a result of the popularity of his songs, a Ghanaian fabric was nicknamed “Joromi” (a song based on the story of a legendary hero in Benin history, as well as the name of Uwaifo’s own style of Highlife music), while “Guitar Boy” was used as a code name for a military coup in Ghana in the 1970s.

                 Uwaifo invented this double-neck “magic guitar” with 18 strings that can Be “rotated 360 degrees at the speed of sound”

Victor Uwaifo LPComb & Razor provides very interesting biographical details and music history here.

Present-day Sir Victor Uwaifo, I’m happy to report, is a vital web presence — be sure to check out all the tributes from heads of state, dignitaries, and government officials.

Les Roche Martin: If ‘Pet Sounds’ Were French

Les Roche Martin appears to have released one single and two EPs – all in 1967 – before the group’s creative director, Vèronique Sanson, struck off on her own, beginning in 1969.

Roche Martin EP“Tu As Peur de Bruit” embodies 1967’s adventurous musical spirit, while it also brilliantly evokes the baroque pop melancholy of Pet Sounds, albeit with a distinct French sensibility:

“Tu As Peur du Bruit”     Les Roche Martin     1967

In 2008 Warner Music France would release a 22-CD/4-DVD (!) box set that would include (as one might expect) all of Sanson’s work, from the earliest Les Roche Martin recordings, all the way up to 2004’s Longue Distance album.

L’Adorable & L’Obscure French Pop

EMI’s anthology of 60s French pop – La Belle Epoque:  EMI’s French Girls 1965-68 – includes this tuneful track from 1967, Christie Laume’s “L’Adorable Femme des Neiges.”  Unsurprisingly, this song – with its effective use of the celeste – would be the title track of a 4-song EP released in France on Odeon (although sequenced, curiously, as its final tune):

“L’Adorable Femme des Neiges”     Christie Laume     1967

YouTube numbers (just under 400 “views”) would seem strongly to suggest that entire swaths of the world’s population are wholly unfamiliar with this quirky song about an adorable lady of the snow who is, presumably, a force for good.

Christie Laume - aChristie Laume - b

Christie Laume would release four EPs between 1966-1968.  As Laume explains on her own website:

“After my brother married Edith Piaf, much to my delight and surprise, my brother and Edith invited me to live with them. That event, without realizing it, brought a rapid and dramatic change in my life. Suddenly because of them, I was living a life of a celebrity without being one.

Edith wanted to hear my voice and asked me if I wanted to sing. Edith asked me to sing in the opening act of several of her concerts and would have me introduce her to the crowd. She gave me the name Christie Laume. I began to live the life of a professional singer: rehearsing, touring, and recording.

After the death of Edith Piaf, I continued to sing and record under the guidance and encouragement of my brother, Theo Sarapo. At that time, the Ye Ye style songs became popular and I recorded several singles and also made several television appearances.”

Hager Twins: Holding the World’s Hands

Jim and John Hager – like the Chaparral Brothers – were (1) identical twins, who (2) once recorded for Capitol.  Unlike the Chaparral Brothers, the Hager Twins (1) would perform on TV’s Hee Haw from 1969 to 1986, and (2) get close to a Top 40 Country hit in 1969 with “Gotta Get to Oklahoma (‘Cause California’s Gettin’ to Me)” which has a nice lyrical twist.

At the Arbutus Record Show I also took home 1970’s Two Hagers Are Better Than One, the duo’s second album, and I discovered (in a spooky twist) that this major label recording – like the debut album from Capitol’s other twins, the Chaparral Brothers – was not listed in for some quizzical reason.

The Hagers - front coverThe Hager Twins would record three albums for Capitol, yet – like the Chaparral Brothers – these albums have not been reissued or anthologized.  Searching for recordings by The Hagers on Amazon is a maddeningly elusive task unless you employ the search phrase “Hagers Capitol,” which then pulls up any Capitol LPs & 45s currently being traded by other vendors.

The Hagers - rear coverSays K. Vincent in his liner notes to 1970’s Two Hagers Are Better Than One:

“Freddie [Hart]’s ‘The Whole World Holding Hands’ stands out with just the kind of lyric John and Jim can believe in.  It hopes for shoes for everybody’s feet, green grass, and love that children can understand.”

Capitol would release two singles from Two Hagers Are Better Than One, and neither would include “The Whole World Holding Hands“:

[Psst:  Click on the triangle to hear “The Whole World Holding Hands” by The Hagers]

Hagers 45Thanks (yet) again to PragueFrank for the discographical details.

The Hagers:  Capitol 45s

  • “Gotta Get To Oklahoma” / “Your Tender Loving Care”  [10-1969]
  • “Loneliness Without You” / “Give It Time”  [02-1970]
  • “Goin’ Home To Your Mother” / “I’m Not Going Back To Jackson”  [05-1970]
  • “Silver Wings” / “Flowers Need Sun, Too”  [ca. 09-1970]
  • “I’m Miles Away” / “Loony Caboose”  [01-1971]
  • “White Line Fever” / “Motherhood, Apple Pie And The Flag”  [05-1971]

The Hagers:  Capitol LPs

  • The Hagers:  Loneliness Without You; I’m Her Fun; Tracks; Your Tender Loving Care; I Don’t Wanna Make It; Gotta Get To Oklahoma (‘Cause California’s Gettin’ To Me); With Lonely; I’m Not Going Back To Jackson; Give It Time; Goin’ Home To Your Mother  [03-1970]
  • Two Hagers Are Better Than One:  Silver Wings; The Whole World Holding Hands; I’m Jesse James; Flowers Need Sun, Too; Loony Caboose; That’s My Love; Second Fiddle; The Last Time; I’m Miles Away; Gamblin’ Man  [09-1970]
  • Motherhood, Apple Pie And The Flag:  Motherhood, Apple Pie And The Flag; White Line Fever; Silver Threads And Golden Needles; Four Strong Winds; Ft. Worth I Love You; Freight Train Fever; Break My Mind; I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; California On My Mind; Back Out On The Road Again  [03-1971]

The Chaparral Brothers: Shattered Men

At last weekend’s Arbutus Record Show, I picked up some interesting long-players, including one each by a pair of unsung Capitol country artists – both, as I discovered, identical twins:  The Chaparral Brothers and The Hagers.

Paul Vorhaben + John Vorhaben = The Chaparral Brothers

Chaparral Brothers - front cover

Indeed, I was happy to acquire Introducing the Chaparral Brothers for a modest sum – especially when I saw that the music was “arranged and conducted” by one of my musical heroes, Jimmy Bryant.

And yet YouTube is bereft of any Chaparral Brothers songs (save one, “Jesus Loves You, Rosemary,” a 45 not included on either of their two albums for Capitol).  Neither can you find this 1968 album cataloged* on, nor are there any Chaparral Brothers reissues or anthologies for sale on Amazon – only listings of second-hand LPs & 45s that you can buy from private vendors.  What gives?

Chaparral Brothers - back cover x*November 11, 2019 Update1968 debut + 1970 follow-up LPs both listed in Discogs

I am flummoxed as to why music of this quality released on a label of such stature would remain overlooked still.   I am also a little embarrassed to discover that the band released its own version of “Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham” (the A-side of a 1970 Capitol single), but I failed to mention that in my original blog piece about John Randolph Marr.

One stand-out track from this fine debut album – “Shattered Man” – seems rife with crossover potential and sounds like an obvious radio hit to me:

[Psst:  Click on the triangle above to hear “Shattered Man” by the Chaparral Brothers]

Billboard‘s July 13, 1968 edition contains this positive assessment:

This debut album by the group has some strong attributes.  It is fresh in sound, and it obviously reflects fine musicianship.  The style of the lads will appeal to more than strictly country buyers.  The material and performances have in them much that interests the contemporary general record buyer.  “Standing in the Rain” and “Shattered Man” are typical.

WorldCat and its combined library catalogs worldwide informs me that the British Library is the only member library with a musical score for “Shattered Man” – click here for proof.

PragueFrank’s righteous recording data includes information about Chaparral singles not listed in 45Cat (though, sadly, not about the accompanying studio musicians):

Chaparral Brothers:  Capitol 45s

  • “Standing In The Rain” b/w “Just One More Time”  [04-1968]
  • “The Rain” b/w “Follow Your Drum”  [11-1968]
  • “I’m Not Even Missing You” / “Maybe Could Find Way Back Home Again”  [06-1969]
  • “Jesus Loves You, Rosemary” / “Then Darling I Could Forget You”  [09-1969]
  • “Runnin’ From A Memory” / “Curly Brown”  [12-1969]
  • “Hello L.A. (Bye Bye Birmingham)” / “I Must Have Been Out Of My Mind”  [02-1970]
  • “Foolin’ Around” / “Life Has Its Little Ups And Downs”  [06-1970]
  • “Let Somebody Love You” / “I Believe In You”  [11-1970]

Chaparral Brothers:  Capitol LPs

  • Introducing The Chaparral Brothers:  Standing in the Rain; Leave; Love Of The Common People; Out Of My Mind; Shattered Man; Tahiti Joe; Just One More Time; Hard Times Come Easy For Me; For The Last Time; Down Came The World; Winner Take All  [05-1968]
  • Just For The Record:  Foolin’ Around; Hello L.A. (Bye, Bye, Birmingham); Life Has Its Little Ups And Downs; Let Somebody Love You; Try A Little Kindness; Running From A Memory; Brown Eyed Handsome Man; The Days Of Sand And Shovels; Born High; I’m Not Even Missing You  [09-1970]

Pair of non-LP tracks “produced and arranged by Al de Lory” – not Jimmy Bryant

Chaparall Bros 45

Yaphet Kotto, coincidentally enough, would appear as Sgt. Major Creason in television series, The High Chaparral in 1968 – the same year Capitol would unleash the Chaparral Brothers on the world.

Dig Yaphet Kotto’s Scene

Yesterday’s piece about Gary Usher and his work on indie label, Vault, led to a discovery:  veteran stage and screen actor, Yaphet Kotto (Giardello in Homicide:  Life on the Street), once cut a record for a label, Chisa, that was distributed by Vault.

Yaphet Kotto AYaphet Kotto B

That’s right, as the Summer of Love gave way to Autumn in October of 1967, Kotto would release his lone 45:  “Have You Ever Seen the Blues” b/w “Have You Dug His Scene:

Could the song title be a wry reference to the singer’s main occupation?

The single, interestingly enough, would be reissued two years later for the same label, but this time distributed by Buddah Records.  According to Both Sides Now Publications, “Vault was being distributed by Autumn Records [where Sly Stone served as house producer] in San Francisco.  Just a few months later [in 1966], Autumn would run out of money, and Vault ended up with the entire Autumn catalog, possibly partly due to money owed.”

Mayf Nutter and The Chamber Brothers, among others would help Vault evolve from its original surf-rock roots.  But alas, Vault would only hold on for a couple more years before being sold to National Tape Distributors in August, 1969.

1969 reissue on Chisa, now distributed by Buddah

Yaphet Kotto AAThanks to IMDB, I would learn that Kotto is (1) the son of a Cameroonian crown prince; (2) has a Bay-Area hardcore punk band named for him; and (3) although he didn’t enjoy filming Midnight Run, the character of Agent Alonzo Mosley remains his favorite.

“Competition Coupe”: The Many Faces of Gary Usher

My friend – the gifted record collector, Tom Avazian – found this fairly obscure hot rod album – 1963’s Hot Rod City on the Vault label – for sale on the streets of Washington, DC:

Hot Rod LP“Competition Coupe” by The Customs was one track that particularly tickled my ear:

Tip of the hat to AllButForgottenOldies for the background story on the band:

“The Customs were one of several studio groups put together by Richard Delvy for the 1963 LP, Hot Rod City (Vault 104).  This LP included the Customs’ noncharting ’54 Corvette’ and another Customs’ song entitled ‘RPM,’ plus ’41 Ford’ by the Grand Prix as also heard today.  Key members of the Customs included Gary Usher who wrote most of the Customs’ songs and was the lead vocalist.  Usher was a major songwriter and producer throughout the 1960s who worked with the Beach Boys and many other top bands and artists.  Usher also recorded and/or produced many other surf rock, hot-rod, and other songs under different band names.”

Don Partridge: Street Musician Who Briefly Went Pop

I discovered an inveterate English singer-songwriter and one-man band whilst scouting material related to music’s intersection with mirth:  Don Partridge (“King of the Buskers”). In late 60s UK, Partridge achieved a surprising amount of commercial success for a “street musician” – one of the first in London following the end of the Second World War, as noted in his 2010 Guardian obituary.  Partridge would later define his own artistic niche:  “I wasn’t a cabaret singer or a club artist.  I was really half circus act and half street singer, so I didn’t fit into the traditional musical mould.”

Partridge’s peak chart success began with “Rosie” (#4, released 1967 at year’s end), continued with “Blue Eyes” (#3, mid-1968), and concluded with “Breakfast on Pluto” (#26, beginning of 1969).  During this fruitful time, Partridge’s records would enjoy release on Columbia in Europe (Netherlands, France, UK & Germany), Oceania (New Zealand & Australia), Africa (Rhodesia) & North America (US & Canada – although on Capitol).

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Sometime In the midst of Partridge’s brief dalliance with the pop charts (October of 1968, to be exact), “We Have Ways of Making You Laugh” was issued as the B-side to “Top Man” (except in the US, where it was the flip side to “Homeless Bones”):

Don Partridge     “We Have Ways of Making You Laugh”     1968

“Disillusioned with the mainstream music industry, Partridge returned to busking and selling books of his own poetry, often travelling overseas,” informs the Guardian obituary.

The first few years of the new millenium would find Partridge on tour with the aforementioned British Sea Power, as well as electronic music duo, Lemon Jelly.

Don Partridge - dDon Partridge - dd

Brevity in Pop: Know When to Fold

These (short) songs clearly run the risk of leaving listeners wanting more:

Wildcat Run”    Red Sovine    1966    (1:20)

Revellion”     The Revels     1962     (1:14)

Oh Claire”      Cheap Trick     1978     (1:10)

Happy House”     Shuggie Otis     1974     (1:08)

Something Else”     Me and Them Guys     1966     (1:05)

Shut Up”     The Stranglers     1978     (1:05)

Thank You Boys”     Jane’s Addiction     1988     (1:03)

When We Were Young”     The Residents      1980     (1:02)

Naked If I Want To”     Moby Grape     1967     (0:58)

Once Was a Time I Thought”     The Mamas & Papas     1966     (0:57)

Ding Dang”    The Beach Boys     1977    (0:57)

Wild Honey Pie”     The Beatles     1968     (0:53)

Abide with Me”    Thelonius Monk    1957    (0:53)

I Can’t Sleep”     Sloan     2006     (0:53)

It’s Johnny’s Birthday”    George Harrison    1970    (0:50)

If You Won’t Leave Me…”     Warren Zevon     1993     (0:45)

       “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”    Johnny Nash    1969    (0:41)

Maggie Mae”     The Beatles     1969     (0:39)

Meant for You”    The Beach Boys    1968    (0:38)

I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977     (0:37)

Five Percent for Nothing”     Yes     1971     (0:35)

Nayli, Nayli, Get Me Down to Washington”     Moonshine     1970     (0:33)

Yoko Ono”     Die Arzte     2001     (0:31)

The Shortest Love Song”     Wee Willie Small     1978     (0:29)

Life Song”     Mason Williams     1968     (0:27)

Field Day for the Sundays”     Wire     1977     (0:27)

A Short Song”     Paddy Roberts     1959     (0:26)

26 Second Song”    Shel Silverstein    1972    (0:26)

Do You Think It’s Alright”     The Who     1968     (0:24)

Her Majesty”     The Beatles     1969     (0:23)

Harvey the Wonder Hamster”     Weird Al     1993     (0:21)

This Is the Shortest Song in the World”    Kenny Price    1970    (0:18)

Miracle Cure”     The Who     1968     (0:12)

Short Blues”     Neil Innes     1976     (0:11)

Turn It Over”     The Youngbloods     1969     (0:11)

That’s All Folks”     The Blues Magoos     1968     (0:08)

This Song”     Barry & the Bookbinders     1986     (0:05)

Magic Melody, Part Two”    Les Paul      1955      (0:01)

There’s a Riot Goin’ On”     Sly Stone     1971     (0:00)

18 seconds:  shortest track on a 45?

Kenny Price 45

Would you be surpised to learn that matter had already been settled in 1956?

[July, 2019 Update]

Small Claims

Shortest song to hit #1 (U.S.): 1960’s “Stay” by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs  1:35

Shortest song to hit #1 (U.K.):  1978’s “What Do You Want” by Adam Faith  1:35

Shortest song to hit Top 40:  1959’s “Some Kinda Earthquake” by Duane Eddy 1:17

Shortest song to hit the Hot 100:  1964’s “Little Boxes” by The Womenfolk  1:02

Shortest song to hit the UK charts:  2007’s “The Ladies’ Bra” by Trunk & Wiseby 0:36

Shortest Song - aa1Shortest Song - a1